Trump voters chose ‘the economy' over confronting ‘white supremacy’: Michael Eric Dyson

President Donald Trump regularly made and amplified racist comments during his re-election campaign, for instance calling the coronavirus “kung flu” and retweeting a video of a man yelling “white power.” But Trump still received more votes than any presidential candidate in history except for Joe Biden.

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In a new interview, longtime civil rights advocate and academic Michael Eric Dyson said the 74.2 million Trump voters deserve “dignity and respect” but are nonetheless complicit in a “racist system” since they were aware of Trump’s penchant for inciting bigotry. Instead, Trump voters chose a candidate they thought was “better for the economy” over one who would address “white supremacy,” Dyson said.

“It is important for us to understand, we don’t have to demonize all the folks on the other side,” says Dyson, who is Black. “But we have to say, ‘Come on, y’all. You know what you were doing, you know what he was about? So for you to say, ‘Oh, I’m not interested in that — he’s a political elephant. I took the part of lower taxes, I took the part of better for the economy.’”

“But what you’re saying is: ‘Too bad that in the process of me getting that, you have to deal with racism, you have to deal with white nationalism,” adds Dyson, a professor of sociology at Georgetown University and author of more than 20 books, most recently the essay collection “Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America.”

“Sorry, but that’s what it is,” he adds. “At that level, you’ve got to say, ‘Come on Americans, we got to deal with the consequences of that. And your complicity in the system, whether you are intentionally racist or not, you benefit from that racist system.”

‘People have to push back’

Trump has yet to concede the election, though Biden won 306 electoral votes compared to Trump’s 232. Roughly half of all Republicans believe Trump “rightfully won” the election, according to a poll released by Reuters last month that included 496 Republicans.

An exit poll conducted by the Washington Post found that Black voters overwhelmingly supported Biden by a 75-point margin, though that margin narrowed slightly from the 81-point advantage enjoyed by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016. Meanwhile, Trump benefited from a 17-point advantage among white voters, according to a New York Times exit poll.

© Provided by Yahoo! Finance NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 25: (L-R) Rev. Al Sharpton, actor/activist Harry Belafonte and author/professor Michael Eric Dyson attend “For the Love Of Our Children Gala” hosted by the National CARES Mentoring Movement on January 25, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for National CARES Mentoring Movement)

Dyson spoke to Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.

While a Biden supporter, Dyson called on civil rights advocates to pressure Biden in order to ensure effective policy outcomes for the Black community.

“We should push him — that’s the goal,” he says. “Civil rights organizations, people have to push back and say, ‘This is what we want.’ That’s our job.”

“But with him, there is some leeway. With him, there’s some good. With Donald Trump, you ain’t pushing him. Because you [know he] don’t really give a damn.”

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